“I scarcely think there is a greater sin, Lucy,” he said solemnly, than that of the woman who marries a man she does not love. You are so precious to me, my beloved, that deeply as my heart is set on this, and bitter as the mere thought of disappointment is to me, I would not have you commit such a sin for any happiness of mine. If my happiness could be achieved by such an act, which it could not – which it never could,” he repeated earnestly, “nothing but misery can result from a marriage dictated by any motive but truth and love” (Braddon 15).
Upon first glance, Sir Michael Audley’s proposal to Miss Lucy Graham seemed rather romantic and full of a sort of innocence and vulnerability that I hadn’t expected. Being a man and a member of the aristocracy, it surprised me that Sir Michael would give any sort of thought to Lucy’s feelings. I couldn’t believe that he would value the desires of her heart over what would be best for him. However, as I took a closer look at the aforementioned passage and those that surrounded it, I found myself questioning my initial conclusions.
Perhaps the proposal wasn’t as straightforward and romantic as I first thought. While many women would have been overjoyed by the notion of Sir Michael’s proposal, this was not the case for Lucy. On the contrary, she was extremely upset and begged Sir Michael not to ask too much of her. She claimed that she could not “be blind to the advantages of such an alliance” (Braddon 16). It was with this statement that I began to wonder about Lucy’s motivations. Was her demure nature and sugary sweetness simply a façade put in place to distract those she met from knowing about her past and the dark shadows that lurked within it?
We are told that, “Beyond her agitation and her passionate vehemence, there was an undefined something in her manner which filled the baronet with a vague alarm” (Braddon 16). I think this is important to make note of because it alludes to the fact that Lucy might not be as mentally sound as some people believe. I also find it intriguing that Sir Michael didn’t heed his own warning about love and marriage. I think he’ll come to regret this decision later, as he realizes that one moment of bliss can’t justify years of misery.
3 thoughts on “Blissful Misery”
I have also recognized the pattern of instances where her authenticity is questioned, and she is suggested to be misleading those around her about who she really is. I saw this in the portrait scene when it notes that artists can usually see something that the naked eye can’t, it hinted that she may be a devious woman, who likewise seems to be a devil figure in this story. It’s seems like her personality and appearance is a façade to make her look innocent.
I strongly agree with your analysis here! I definitely think there is something hidden behind Lucy’s seemingly innocent, childish facade, which Sir Michael is too blindly in love to see. Additionally, I agree with your final note about him not following his own belief about loveless marriages. It’s interesting that, immediately after this passage, he ignores Lucy’s lack of love for him and decides to marry her anyway. However, I wonder why Lucy told Michael she didn’t love him. If she truly had dark ulterior motives, you’d think she’d have lied about her feelings to make him happy. It could be that this was just a deeper kind of manipulation to make Michael think she will always be honest with him. She uses this kind of manipulation much later when she tells him that Robert is paying too much attention to her, and she worries it will make Alicia jealous; it seems as if she is being perfectly honest but deep down she has different reasons to want Robert gone.
I think your take on this quote was very unique. The idea that Sir Michael is not thinking the marriage proposal through is entirely plausible, especially considering the large age gap and knowing very little about her past before coming to the town near Audley Court. However, marriages in the Victorian era were often arranged and were marriages for security or financial/power gain. Therefore, this behavior of Sir Michael would not be strange or unusual for the time.
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